What we’ve been waiting for has finally happened! Mazda announced last week that they’re now offering a Mazda Carplay retrofit in the US for all 2014 and up vehicles with their Mazda CONNECT infotainment system.
The update has a suggested retail of $199 + labor and you’ll have to bring your vehicle into a dealer to get the work done. Mazda notes the Carplay upgrade takes a couple hours to complete, so you’re likely looking at a total cost around $400 or so.
The upgrade includes both new software and hardware components as well as a faster, 2.1 amp USB port and the latest version of Mazda CONNECT.
Mazda introduced the CONNECT infotainment system in 2014 across their entire lineup, so if you’ve recently purchased a Mazda3, Mazda2, Mazda6, MX-5, CX-5, CX-9, or CX-3, you shouldn’t have a problem getting the upgrade.
Mazda is pretty late to the CarPlay game, but with this latest offering, they’re jumping straight into the deep end. Both Ford and Hyundai offer CarPlay upgrades in certain vehicles, but no other auto maker is offering the upgrades for so many different models and years.
CarPlay is great for music and the like, but there’s other uses as well.
Reddit user thewizleon posted earlier this year about a clever hack to integrate your Apple Calendar and Maps app so you can easily pull up saved locations. It’s such a nice little piece of advice we wanted to share it here.
Here’s the issue: You’ve added appointments and events to your Calendar throughout the day. You get in your car, ready to drive to your next meeting, but have no idea where to go. What to do?
I’ve always wanted the calendar app to be CarPlay so I can pull up my next job, click it and get directions straight to Apple maps. Sadly this isn’t possible, however I have noticed there is a (sort of) solution.
Instead of looking up your destination every time or saving half the info in Apple Calendar (time/event) and half in Maps (location), here’s a helpful trick: Add the location directly to your Calendar events. Just make sure that the Calendar knows it’s a location (it’ll show a map of the location if everything is right).
That’s all you have to do. Next time you get in your car, wondering where to drive, tell Siri to open Destinations in Maps and voila! all your event and meeting locations for the day will be listed right there. Pretty cool, huh?
Streamlining your life like this is always a blessing. This neat little trick is great for those of us who are driving around all day and don’t want to constantly re-find where we need to go. A+ thewizleon!
Apple CarPlay allows you to easily access your iPhone
without taking your eyes off the road. With distractions a major cause of
accidents while driving, this could truly save your life one day. Plus, it’s
just so easy to use!
Currently, Nissan offers CarPlay in 10 models, and is adding
more every year. Let’s take a look at these models, as well as how to setup and
use CarPlay in your Nissan.
What Nissan Models Include Apple CarPlay?
Nissan first started supporting Apple CarPlay in 2017
Maximas and Micras. As of December 2018, Nissan currently offers Apple CarPlay
in 10 different models:
Maxima (2017 – )
Micra (2017 – )
Murano (2017.5 – )
GT-R (2018 – )
Kicks (2018 – )
Leaf (2018 – )
Rogue (2018 – )
Altima (2019 – )
Titan (2019 – )
Sentra (2019 – )
Nissan does include CarPlay in most trim levels, but not
all. Typically, carmakers save CarPlay for the higher trim levels, though that
depends on the model. Apple CarPlay needs an infotainment system to function,
so some of the base models can’t support it.
The 2018 Leaf, for example, only includes CarPlay in the SV
and SL trim levels, not the basic S. Overall though, CarPlay comes in all trim
levels for many of the cars above. The Murano supports Apple CarPlay across all
trim levels. The 2018 Rogue also comes with CarPlay in every model, as does the
Maxima and Altima.
How Much Does CarPlay Cost?
CarPlay is absolutely free! After purchasing your vehicle,
there’s no monthly or yearly fee to continue using CarPlay, so sit back and
I Don’t Have CarPlay, Can I Get a Nissan CarPlay Upgrade?
If your Nissan doesn’t support CarPlay, you might be
wondering if you can get an upgrade. Unfortunately, Nissan doesn’t offer any
CarPlay retrofits at this time.
However, that doesn’t mean you’re out of options! While
Nissan doesn’t offer any CarPlay upgrades, there are quite a few aftermarket
headunits that support Apple CarPlay. Check out our list of best
headunits with Apple CarPlay to get an idea of what’s out there.
You’ll be pleasantly surprised at your options. There’s
budget options all the way up to premium headunits with wireless CarPlay,
something no manufacturer has yet to incorporate!
How to Setup and Use Your Nissan CarPlay
Setting up CarPlay in your new Nissan is actually quite
On your iPhone, Go to Settings > General and
ensure both CarPlay and Siri are turned on. There’s no CarPlay app to install,
as iOS already has everything you need for CarPlay to work.
Connect your iPhone via a lightening cable to
A screen will appear on your in-dash screen
asking if you’d like to connect to Apple CarPlay. Touch Don’t Show Again and then Yes.
After setting up CarPlay the first time, every time you connect
your phone, you’ll see a simplified version of your iPhone’s menu mirrored on
your car’s infotainment screen. You’ll find all your apps that are pre-approved
to work with CarPlay now on your screen.
While driving, you can use the touchscreen to open an app,
or hold down your steering wheel’s voice command to engage Siri. You can also
hold down the white home button on the touchscreen to engage Siri.
If you want to listen to the radio or use your car’s native
navigation system, just press the physical Home button and you’ll move back to
your car’s infotainment system. To return to CarPlay, click Info on the touchscreen, then choose Apple CarPlay.
Here’s quick video from Nissan to show exactly how to setup
and use CarPlay:
Troubleshoot Your Nissan CarPlay Not Working
Is your Nissan Carplay not working? Tech doesn’t work
sometimes, but hopefully it’s an easy fix. Whenever Apple puts out an update to
their iOS, CarPlay seems to inevitably break or glitch for some.
If CarPlay isn’t working for you, try these steps:
Are you plugged into USB 1? That’s the only port
that works with CarPlay
Are you using an Apple-approved USB cord? If
not, that could be the problem.
Is CarPlay and Siri turned on in your iPhone?
Hardstart your iPhone and restart your car.
Update to the latest version of iOS
If CarPlay still doesn’t work in your Nissan, check your
owner’s manual for firmware updates to your infotainment system.
What Can I Do With CarPlay?
CarPlay lets you use your iPhone without taking your eyes on
the road. Basically, it’s a safer, easier way to use your smartphone while
driving. Instead of constantly squinting at your phone, trying to text someone
back or play new album, just tell Siri what you want to do.
Via CarPlay, you can listen to music, podcasts, or
audiobooks, take notes while driving, call and message friends, and a bunch of
other stuff – all while looking directly at the car in front of you. Obviously,
you can’t play games or read an eBook with CarPlay, but that’s kind of the
point right? A safer driving experience.
UPDATE: Mazda announced late in November that they now offers CarPlay upgrades in the US across their lineup. Check out our update on the CarPlay retrofit for details.
Mazda’s now offering Apple CarPlay retrofits in both Canada and Australia for vehicles all the way back to MY 2014. But they’ve yet to release any similar plans for the US. When will this awesome retrofit come to US soil?
Mazda Canada Now Retrofits CarPlay in 6 Models
Back in September 2018, Mazda Canada announced that Apple
CarPlay would come standard in all 2019 models (save the MX-5). Mazda also announced
that, if you recently bought a 2018 Mazda6 or a 2019 CX-3 before the new
production change, you can have CarPlay installed in your vehicle for $250 CAD –
a steal for an OEM piece of equipment.
Mazda’s awesome CarPlay offerings don’t stop there though. They
also announced that they’d offer Carplay for all existing vehicles equipped with the Mazda CONNECT infotainment
systems for a cost of $443 CAD. While 2x as much as for the vehicles above,
that’s still not a bad price for a dealer-installed piece of equipment.
Mazda first introduced their CONNECT system across their
entire range in 2014, so if your Mazda is MY 2014 or newer, you’ve got Mazda
CONNECT. This includes the Mazda3, Mazda2, Mazda6, MX-5, CX-5, CX-9, and CX-3 (itself
introduced in 2016).
Will Mazda Offer This Retrofit in the US?
Unfortunately, in the US things are a bit different. Mazda has already announced they’ll include CarPlay in the 2019 CX-9, but they haven’t yet spilled the beans whether or not they’ll offer the CarPlay retrofit for all the models above.
With Mazda offering the upgrade in both Canada and Australia,we can only assume (or hope) it’ll eventually make it to the US. One good sign: Mazda itself admits that Mazda CONNECT is basically the same the world over.
We really can’t see any reason they wouldn’t offer this
CarPlay retrofit in the US – unless they have a deep loathing for their
Mazda isn’t completely quiet on the home front though. As of
November 2018, they have confirmed that they’re offering a CarPlay retrofit the
2018 Mazda6 – and for free!
2018 Mazda6 Owners Can Already Get a Free Retrofit
If you’ve already got a 2018 Mazda6 – you’re actually in
luck! Starting in September, Mazda dealers across the US began offering
CarPlay/Android Auto retrofits at no
cost. The free retrofit is only available for certain trim levels, so if
you opted for the Touring, Grand Touring, Grand Touring Reserve, or Signature,
you’re good to go.
Mazda first announced this awesome deal back in a Julypress release. For the retrofit, you must bring your Mazda6 into adealer and the procedure includes both hardware and software upgrades and takesabout two hours to complete.
So if you’ve got a 2018 Mazda6 (of one of the trim levels above) but don’t have Apple CarPlay – go to your dealer today and get it for free!
Apple CarPlay offers the easiest (and safest) way to use your iPhone while driving and many of Honda’s most popular models now include CarPlay.
What Honda Models Include CarPlay?
As of late 2018, Honda offers CarPlay in 8 models, including:
Accord (starting in 2016)
Ridgeline (starting in 2017)
Odyssey (starting in 2018)
Insight (starting in 2019)
Keep in mind, Honda does not include CarPlay in all trim levels for the above models. Instead, the manufacturer reserves CarPlay (and Android Auto) for all levels except the base trim.
So, for example, the 2019 Honda Civic comes in 5 different trims levels. The base LX trim level doesn’t include CarPlay. However, all the other trim levels – Sport, EX, EX-L, and Touring – do include CarPlay.
This rule also applies for the 2019 Honda Fit, Honda Pilot, and Odyssey minivan. The others on our list are likely similar, but take a look at Honda’s full list of models to make sure what trim level you need for CarPlay.
How Much Does CarPlay Cost?
If you’ve already purchased your CarPlay-compatible Honda, you’re all set – you don’t need to pay for anything! That’s no longer a given, as some manufacturers (BMW, we’re looking at you) are actually charging annual fees to continue using CarPlay. Thankfully though, Honda hasn’t yet expressed any interest in charging ongoing fees to use CarPlay.
Of course, if you want Apple CarPlay in your Honda vehicle, you’ll have to pony up the cash for, at least, the second-lowest trim level. This cost premium ranges from about $1,300 for the 2019 Fit to about $4,000 for the 2019 Odyssey.
Of course, with the higher trim level you’re getting a box full of additional goodies as well. Remote engine start and blind spot sensors come with the Odyssey, while the Fit enjoys fog lights and various chrome and spoilers.
If you’re in the market for a new vehicle, you’ll have to take a look at what these different trim levels include to decide what matters to you.
Can You Add CarPlay to Existing Hondas?
Beyond Ford and Hyundai, which retroactively install CarPlay in a handful of models, manufacturers typically won’t add CarPlay to existing vehicles.
If you don’t own one of the CarPlay-carrying models above though, you’re not out of luck! It’s time to go aftermarket.
There’s a wide range of aftermarket infotainment systems that include CarPlay – many at very reasonable prices – and you can pretty much find exactly what your car needs. Single DIN, double DIN. Touchscreen. There’s some awesome options out there, including Wireless connectivity. That’s not even an option yet off the lot of any manufacturer!
CarPlay is simply a way to use your iPhone more safely while driving. Instead of constantly holding your phone and looking at the little screen to take calls and change music, CarPlay allows you to access all your driving-related apps right on your car’s infotainment display.
Basically, it shows a simplified version of your iPhone screen with pre-approved apps like Maps (or Waze or Google Maps), Audible, Music, Messages, WhatsApp, and iHeartRadio. For the full list of all the apps compatible with CarPlay, check out our post CarPlay Compatible Apps!
CarPlay is all about decreasing the amount of time you spend
looking away from the road. As such, you can control your iPhone via your
infotainment system’s touchscreen and/or dials or via voice command.
You can make calls, text, make notes and set reminders – all without looking away from the road!
How to Set Up Honda’s Apple CarPlay
The beauty of CarPlay is in its simplicity. Since it’s just a condensed version of your iPhone, you don’t need to learn a totally new system or interface. You’re pretty much ready to go right off the lot!
To set up your Honda’s Apple CarPlay, all you need to do is plug your phone into the USB port using a lightening cord (you’ll have to bring your own though). On your first use, a consent screen will appear on your display. After skimming the Terms & Conditions and clicking Enable, a new CarPlay icon will appear on your Honda’s native display. (Check out the video from Honda above for a visual walk-thru.)
Clicking on the app will open the CarPlay display, already populated with your apps that are pre-approved for CarPlay. Congratulations, you’re ready to start using CarPlay!
How to Use Honda’s Apple CarPlay
Using CarPlay is actually quite easy. Once you’ve plugged your iPhone into your vehicle’s USB port, you can open apps via the menu on the touchscreen display or use Siri.
To use Siri, just hold down the talk button on your Honda steering wheel until you hear Siri’s distinctive beeps. Then simply make your request: “Text John”, “Play Bohemian Rhapsody”, “Find the nearest Dairy Queen”, and so on.
It’s really that easy!
Have any questions about Honda and Apple CarPlay that we didn’t answer above? Ask away in the comments!
Beginning in September 2018, Mazda will offer CarPlay in 2 models – the Mazda6 sedan and CX-9 SUV.
Despite Apple introducing CarPlay way back in 2014 and almost every major manufacturer adopting the technology in all or part of their lineups, Mazda and Toyota have been the hold-outs, refusing to support CarPlay in their vehicles.
Finally though, that’s all beginning to change. Toyota has adopted CarPlay for the 2019 Avalon and – thankfully – Mazda is finally offering Carplay in their flagship Mazda6 sedan and CX-9 SUV. However, it’s not every trim level and no one’s still quite sure exactly what they’ll offer in the future.
Mazda Offers Free Carplay Upgrade for 2018 Mazda6
In July 2018, Mazda North America announced that, starting in September 2018, they would offer free upgrades for Carplay (and Android Auto) retroactively for all trim levels of the 2018 Mazda6 except the most basic Sport trim.
Kudos to Mazda for this awesome move, as they’re only the 3rd manufacturer to retroactively offer CarPlay in an existing model, following the path set by Ford and Hyundai. With CarPlay, Mazda6 owners will now be able to more safely access Messages, Apple Maps, Music, Podcasts, and a handful of other preapproved Apple and 3rd party apps.
2018 Mazda6 owners with Touring, Grand Touring, Grand Touring Reserve, and Signature trim will simply drop their car off at the Mazda dealer, where they’ll install the necessary hardware and software upgrades.
Mazda notes the process should take about two hours, and will also include installation of a more powerful 2.1 amp USB port as well as the latest version of MAZDA CONNECT, Mazda’s proprietary infotainment system.
With MAZDA CONNECT, you’re able to switch between your phone and the radio intuitively and without distraction says Mazda, which fits pretty well with CarPlay’s own goal of safer driving.
The Mazda6 is the first Mazda vehicle in North America to feature Apple Carplay integration. And we can probably assume the 2019 Mazda6 will also feature Apple CarPlay, but until Mazda publishes the stats of the new model we’re left to simply assume. However, we’re not at a total loss, as Mazda has already announced the 2019 CX-9 will most assuredly feature Carplay right off the lot.
2019 Mazda CX-9 to Feature Apple Carplay
The 2019 Mazda CX-9 is the first Mazda to feature CarPlay off the lot. Available in early September 2018, CarPlay will come standard on Touring trim levels and above (like the Mazda6). This crossover SUV will also feature the MAZDA CONNECT infotainment system and a 7” screen (8” for the Touring model). You can control via the touchscreen or knobs and dials located on the console.
Beyond that, the new CX-9 will feature 17” alloy wheels, LED headlights, Bluetooth, keyless entry, and push-button start.
Like the Mazda6 above (as well as any vehicle with CarPlay), CX-9 drivers will be able to simply plug in their phones with the lightening cord and see a simplified Apple menu on their screen, replete with driving-friendly apps.
How to Use Mazda Apple CarPlay
The beauty of Apple CarPlay is in its simplicity. If you already know how to use your iPhone, you already know how to use CarPlay. Simply plug your phone into the included lightening cord and a very familiar Apple menu should pop up on your screen.
From there, you can open and close apps, find directions, send texts, open audiobooks, and anything else you’d need while driving via the touchscreen, knobs and dials, or voice command. That’s about it – nice and simple!
Mazda, Apple CarPlay in the Future
Beyond the Mazda6 and CX-9, Mazda has yet to reveal their long-term plans for incorporating Apple CarPlay into their other offerings. Hopefully they’ll continue to roll out the technology across the entire lineup as most other major manufacturers have. Chevy, for example, includes CarPlay in well over 20 models, while Honda offers CarPlay in 7 and Hyundai in 11.
Way back at a press conference in early 2018 – before they’d announced the Mazda6 CarPlay retrofit – Mazda gave a very nonspecific announcement that they’d start offering CarPlay for the MAZDA CONNECT system, without mention of any specific models.
As we’ve seen above, they subsequently began offering Carplay for the 2018 Mazda6, but the manufacturer introduced the MAZDA CONNECT infotainment system back in 2014, so there’s a huge backlog of used vehicles that could possibly be eligible for a CarPlay upgrade. Mazda has yet to further comment on this, so we’ll just have to wait and see exactly which models they’ll offer up for CarPlay.
Mazda has certainly arrived late to the CarPlay party. There’s no doubting that. But it’s never too late and they’ve taken some great first steps. Let’s hope they continue on this path.
If you’re looking to pair your iPhone with a new Ford, you’re in luck – sort of.
Ford offers Carplay across their entire lineup, but not all trim levels actually come with the hardware you need. If you’re looking to enjoy Ford Carplay, you’ll need to make sure your vehicle is equipped with their SYNC 3 infotainment system, which is generally reserved for their higher trim levels.
Keep reading to find out what Ford models come equipped for Carplay as well as all the other info you need to get Carplay going in your Ford vehicle.
What Ford models include Carplay?
All Ford vehicles with their high-end SYNC 3 infotainment system are compatible with Apple Carplay. But while all 2017+ models can be equipped with SYNC 3, only the higher trim levels actually include this higher end infotainment system.
For example, the most basic trim levels of the ever-popular Ford Focus (the S and SE) only include the more limited SYNC infotainment system. However, the SEL and Titanium trims do include SYNC 3. Generally speaking, across the entire lineup of Ford vehicles, the cheapest trim levels (S and SE) only come with SYNC, while the more expensive trims include SYNC 3 (and by extension, Apple Carplay).
If you don’t have the cash for a full trim upgrade, don’t let that get you down though. You’ve still got options. With the SE trim level, you can upgrade your infotainment system to SYNC 3 for an additional $995, though it’s not an option for the most basic S trim. Adding voice-activated navigation along with the SYNC 3 costs just $795, but it’ll set you back $1,790 in total, as you also have to buy the Appearance Package.
Unfortunately, there’s simply too many models, trim levels, and upgrade packages to give you a complete overview of which ones include Apple Carplay. So to find out which trim levels include SYNC 3 (and Carplay) for each model you’re interested in, head over to Ford’s online Showroom where you can see more details on trim level, costs, and available upgrades.
Ford began supporting Apple Carplay in 2017, installing the required hard/software in new vehicles and offering to retroactively install it in any MY 2016 vehicles equipped with their SYNC 3 infotainment software. Kudos to Ford for this, as it’s something most car companies simply refuse to do. 2016 models with SYNC 3 include the C-Max, Edge, Escape, and Expedition.
SYNC 3 is the 3rd version of Ford’s much lauded, forward-leaning SYNC infotainment system introduced in 2007, and the more recent (and considerably less-lauded) MyFord Touch. Ford threw out the entire Windows-based system for the SYNC 3, instead opting for a more simplistic and intuitive Blackberry-based system (which, despite Blackberry’s failings in the current mobile phone market, is doing pretty well in the infotainment system sector) – all to great applause.
Will my iPhone work with Ford Carplay?
As long as you have an iPhone 5 or newer, you should be good to go. This includes:
iPhone 5, 5s, 5c, and SE
iPhone 6, 6 Plus, 6s, and 6s Plus
iPhone 7, 7 Plus
iPhone 8, 8 Plus
Ford also offers a nifty tool that allows you to choose your vehicle and service provider to make absolutely sure your phone is Carplay-compatible with any vehicle.
How Do I Use Carplay with My Ford?
Because both your vehicle and your phone are already setup for Carplay, actually using it in your Ford vehicle is about as simple as you can get. Just plug your iPhone into any USB port in the vehicle with a Lightning connector. There, you’ve just set up Apple Carplay.
The first time you plug your iPhone in, you’ll see a message on your SYNC 3 screen asking if you want to connect. Press continue and agree to the terms and conditions, then you’ll see a familiar Apple menu with several road-worthy apps ready to go, including Phone, Messages, Maps, etc. (For a list of all Carplay compatible apps, head over to our updated list Carplay Compatible Apps.)
Actually interacting with Carplay is all about voice control. Instead of looking away from the road to press buttons and find that song you’re looking for, just ask Siri to play Party in the USA for you (as you cower in shame at the red light, hoping no one will hear).
Do I Have to Pay Extra for Carplay?
Besides the higher price for the premium trim level, Carplay is absolutely free! There’s no monthly fee or additional fees to use it. Just buy the car and enjoy! BMW notoriously charges for Apple Carplay, but most automakers simply include the service as an enticing freebie.
Can I Update MyFord Touch or SYNC to SYNC 3 So I Can Use Carplay?
Not via any official channels. Like we mentioned above, SYNC 3 is a completely different system than MyFord Touch, built on different hardware/software. As such, MyFord Touch vehicles (and 1st gen SYNC vehicles) can’t simply update to the new SYNC 3. Unfortunately, you’re stuck with what you’ve got, meaning you’re Carplay-less.
That being said, there is an option out there if you’re desperate for Apple Carplay. You can simply remove your existing infotainment system and install a Carplay-compatible model. There are online stores offering SYNC 3 upgrades for MyFord Touch using recycled units (infotainment.com for example), but you’ll spend a pretty penny on these.
A cheaper option is to purchase an aftermarket headunit that is Carplay compatible. We’ve reviewed several different options and, while there’s not an endless list of options, you’re sure to find something that meets your needs. There’s basic low-cost units that cost a couple hundred bucks to ultra-premium wireless options (yes, you read that right. A wireless Carplay unit. Ford doesn’t even offer wireless Carplay!)
With Ford’s SYNC 3 infotainment system, you’re getting a great product that’s well reviewed and fully supports Apple Carplay. Just be sure you’re actually buying a vehicle with SYNC 3!
Do you have any other questions about Ford and Carplay? Ask away in the comments! Looking for more information on Apple Carplay? Head over to our FAQ section!
And will CarPlay be compatible with future iPhones?
If you’re hooked on CarPlay, you might be wondering whether it’s here for the long term. Unlike a phone that you just replace when it becomes a bit too dated and clunky, a car is a long-term investment. And with the average car lasting 11 ½ years – the highest age in history – we’re keeping our cars longer than ever.
Of course, you probably won’t own the same car in 11 ½ years, but chances are that your next auto purchase – whether new or used – will have CarPlay.
With Apple CarPlay literally (via a lightening cable) and metaphorically tethering your phone and car together, you might wonder how your future clunker will handle future iterations of your iPhone or whatever gadget Apple will make in 11 ½ years.
And don’t think a lot can change in 12 years? Well, consider that CNET’s 2006 award for most innovative phone design went to the LG Chocolate KG800 (far left phone in the image above). Remember those times? With 128MB, you had enough space to hold about 20 terrible photos from its 1.3MP camera.
A lot can change in 12 years, and phones change faster than anything else.
Do I need to worry about future compatibility?
For CarPlay to work, you need two pieces of equipment: a CarPlay-compatible car, and a CarPlay-compatible iPhone.
The worry is that, in the future smartphone technology will move forward and become incompatible with your car’s technology – which we upgrade much less frequently. Unlike a phone, you can’t download an update for your car (at least, for most cars…).
For the most part, you’re stuck with what you’ve got. Right now, you might be having flashbacks of your SUV’s clunky early-2000s navigation software, thinking you’d hate to still lug that around. And you certainly don’t want to use that old BMW car phone above. Yikes.
But with CarPlay it’s different, and in a very good way.
While your car certainly needs to be CarPlay-compatible, it’s really just a conduit for your iPhone software. It’s a screen displaying a simplified version of your iPhone screen. When Apple pushes an update to your iPhone, CarPlay is also updated. You’re really only limited by the physical aspects of your own car – the dials, nobs, and steering wheel controls. Other than that, everything can update and change.
So unlike those cars with a pre-installed Pandora app that’s ready to be ignored in 10 years, CarPlay can change and shift with the times – keeping your car’s infotainment system from becoming an outdated brick years down the line. Pretty cool, huh? It’s a neat trick.
CarPlay is ubiquitous – and there’s strength in numbers
Even still though, are you worried that Apple will one day stop supporting CarPlay? That they’d just drop it from future iPhones? We wouldn’t worry just yet, and we’d be surprised if that happened anytime soon.
When first debuted in 2014, just 3 automakers supported CarPlay. Fast forward to 2018, and that number’s now at over 200 CarPlay-supporting vehicles, including models from all the big manufacturers: Chevy, Ford, VW, Honda, Toyota, etc. To say that CarPlay has seen exponential growth would be an understatement. From humble beginnings just 4 years ago, it’s now supported by almost every major auto manufacturer.
On the phone side, all iPhones starting with the 5 (and all iterations, ie the 5S, 5C, 6 Plus, etc) support CarPlay. That’s a total of 14 iPhone models as of early 2018.
If you’re wondering whether you need to worry about future compatibility, the complete ubiquity of CarPlay in today’s modern cars is almost a guarantee that it’ll be around for a long time to come.
And when you think about it, it wouldn’t make sense to roll out a feature that requires partnerships with a dozen or so auto manufacturers – only to drop it 10 years down the line. Drivers wouldn’t be happy and the car manufacturers that supported CarPlay certainly wouldn’t be happy either.
So to answer our initial question, by its very design, CarPlay will avoid becoming outdated simply because it can shift and change as time and technology move forward. And while Apple could one day cease supporting the function, we wouldn’t worry about that anytime soon.
Aftermarket stereos with Apple CarPlay come with a wide range of price tags. How do you choose the right one?
If you’re dying to use Apple CarPlay, but your current vehicle doesn’t support this awesome tech, you’ve only got two options. You could buy a new car, but that seems excessive for what equates to basically just a new tape deck.
Instead, why not consider simply buying an aftermarket headunit with Apple CarPlay? It’s much cheaper than purchasing a new vehicle and with a fascia kit, no one will ever even know your cool new receiver didn’t come stock!
To help you decide which headunit makes the most sense for you, we’ve hand-picked the best headunits with Apple CarPlay. Scroll on for these awesome options as well as some tips to make the purchase and installation even easier!
Best Headunits with Apple Carplay
There are quite a few aftermarket headunits that support Apple CarPlay and, for the most part, they all have pretty similar features. Bluetooth comes standard, screens are all touchscreen and range from 6 to 7 inches. All can support rear cameras and steering wheel controls (though you’ll need to buy or already have a rear camera and steering wheel controls, obviously).
So how do you choose the one that’s right for you? Well, you need to look at:
Cost – Some are much more expensive than others. As with most things in life, higher cost means better quality.
Reviews – The cheaper units generally see more mixed reviews.
DIN – You’ll be limited to your car’s existing DIN, so keep that in mind (If you don’t know what DIN is, read the last section to find out exactly what this is).
CD/DVD – Most of the receivers below don’t support CD/DVDs. We’ve noted whether each headunit supports this or not.
Wireless CarPlay – There’s only one aftermarket receiver that supports wireless Carplay, and it’s the most expensive on our list.
Decide what considerations are the most important to you and then move forward from there. To help you out, we’ve chosen the best aftermarket CarPlay stereo for each category above.
Ready? Let’s take a look, starting with the best all-around option.
CD/DVD Compatible: Pioneer AVH-2300NEX
Price: $$ out of $$$$
Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars
Pros: CD/DVD compatible, Good Price, Great Reviews, Large Screen
If you’re looking for a receiver that both is CarPlay compatible and can play CDs/DVDs as well, take a look at the well-priced Pioneer AVH-2300NEX. This double-DIN unit comes CarPlay-ready and can also play CDs/DVDs – a great deal at just over $300.
Buyers report absolutely incredible audio as well as excellent usability and aesthetics. A handful of user report lower screen quality than other units, but at this cost and considering the features that come with the unit (we did mention it supports CD/DVDs, right?), that’s to be somewhat expected.
If you want a great aftermarket receiver that supports both CarPlay and CDs, with great sound to boot, look no further.
Single DIN: Pioneer AVH-3300NEX
Price: $$$ out of $$$$
Pros: Great Reviews, Only Single-DIN with CarPlay, Large Screen, CD/DVD compatible
Cons: Higher Price than Comparable Double-DIN units
If you’re looking for an aftermarket, single-DIN receiver that is CarPlay compatible, your choices suddenly drop significantly, as most Carplay compatible units are double-DIN.
However, you’re not completely out of options! The Pioneer AVH-3300NEX is a single-DIN unit with a 7” flip out touchscreen that includes Carplay and Bluetooth. Like the Pioneer unit above, this receiver comes with a CD/DVD player so you can still play that Best of Loretta Lynn album you got from that garage sale.
Users report that the unit works and sounds great, with both the Bluetooth and CarPlay working smoothly, without lag or any other problems. Just like the other units on our list, this one is rear camera ready and comes with a small microphone as well.
If you’re limited to single-DIN only, this unit meets all your needs at a mid-range price.
Wireless CarPlay: Alpine ILX-107
Price: $$$$ out of $$$$
Pros: Only Wireless CarPlay unit, Great Reviews, Large Screen
Cons: Expensive, No CD/DVD
Currently the only aftermarket receiver that supports wireless CarPlay, the Alpine ILX-107 includes a 7” VGA capacitive touch display and is ready for steering wheel controls and rear cameras. The unit also comes a physical Siri button for ease of use.
The beauty of a wireless option should be obvious: Just jump in your car and turn on Spotify or text a friend, all without taking your phone out of your pocket. The unit also comes with the lightning cord, useful on longer trips when you also want to keep your phone charged as well.
As you’d expect for a premium product, customers report that the unit – including the wireless CarPlay capability – work great with no real issues to speak of.
At just under $700, you’ll be paying for the privilege to leave your phone in your pocket, but if you’re looking for the future of car/phone integration, the Alpine ILX-107 is definitely it.
Cheapest: Boss Audio BVCP9675
Price: $ out of $$$$
Pros: Low Cost, Good Features for Price
Cons: Mixed Reviews, No CD/DVD
Where once Carplay was limited to higher-priced aftermarket headunits, today you can find quite a few deals!
For just over $200, you can purchase the Boss Audio BVCP9675. This double-DIN unit features a 6.75” capacitive touchscreen, Bluetooth, USB, and of course, Carplay compatibility. While you still need to plug your phone in to use Carplay, with the Bluetooth you can make/receive calls and listen to music wirelessly. The unit comes with inputs for USB, AUX, steering wheel controls, and a rear camera.
Despite the low price, buyers report good screen quality (both in resolution and color), clear call quality, touch capabilities, and good aesthetics. However, others note some functionality issues and poor customer service. While you’ll probably be alright, don’t forget that you usually get what you pay for.
While this unit seems to suffer from poor usability more than others, at that low price you really can’t go wrong.
Sony’s XAV-AX100 comes right in around $350, half the price of more expensive units, but with much better reviews than its cheaper cousins.
The unit comes ready with Bluetooth (though you still need to plug your phone in for CarPlay), touchscreen and physical dial/buttons, and rear camera compatibility.
This unit gets fantastic reviews from customers, where they praise the interface, clear audio, and bright screen. The only consistent issue reviewers brought up? A warning message that you must accept each time you start the car. Somewhat annoying, but by no means a deal breaker.
While the screen is only 6” – a bit smaller than the others on our list – no reviewers pointed this out as a bad thing.
The standard unit isn’t able to play CD or DVDs, but for $100 more you can add that capability, as well as satellite radio.
Overall, this is a great unit with excellent reviews, all at a mid-range price.
Hot Tips to Help You Find the Right Head Unit
Before you choose your new CarPlay stereo, we’ve got a few hot tips to help you out.
Bluetooth vs Wireless
You probably noticed that all the headunits above come with Bluetooth, but you still need to plug your phone in with a physical wire to use CarPlay (except for the Alpine unit). Like me, you’re probably wondering what gives – Why do we have to use an old school wire to use Carplay?
Here’s the rundown: CarPlay doesn’t work over Bluetooth. You need Wi-Fi. Bluetooth allows you to wirelessly play music, listen to audiobooks, and use Siri, but with most headunits you can’t use CarPlay via Bluetooth.
Instead, you most plug your phone into the lightening cord attached to the receiver, which allow you to both use CarPlay and charge your phone as well. As we mentioned, Alpine currently produces the only aftermarket headunit that supports CarPlay wirelessly, via Wi-Fi built into the headunit.
Single-DIN vs Double-DIN
An unfamiliar name for a very familiar concept. Have you ever noticed that all in-car head units are the same width, but some are short and some are tall? That’s the DIN standards at work, which specifies the height and width of standard head units. A single DIN unit is 2” tall. A double-DIN unit is 4” tall.
Which DIN you need depends on your dash. It can be somewhat difficult to see exactly which part of the dash is the headunit, as components in modern cars are very sleek and integrated, but just take a look at your dash or do a quick search online. If it looks like its 4” tall – that’s a double DIN and you’ll have many more options for CarPlay headunits with this size. If you’ve only got a single-DIN receiver, don’t worry! You’re still covered.
Just Buy the Wiring Adapter
Unless you’re an expert installer of car audio equipment, simply buying the adapter for connecting your new receiver to the car’s existing wiring can save you major time and frustration. Take it from me, this can be a frustrating process – sweat pouring down your forehead, hands getting cut up from the metal, all why trying to splice together wires that don’t quite stick out far enough from the back makes for a very long day. It might cost a little more to buy that adapter, but your nerves will thank you.
If you’ve got steering wheel controls, don’t forget to buy that wiring adapter as well, which can be separate from your main wiring adapter.
Consider Buying the Fascia Kit
If you want your headunit to look stock, buy the cover designed for your specific car and headunit. Obviously, this is another expense that isn’t absolutely necessary, but why spend bookoo bucks on an awesome headunit, only for it to look terrible in your dash?
Buying an aftermarket stereo with Apple CarPlay can make your driving experience easier and safer, all without the expense of buying a totally new car. If you’ve installed an aftermarket headunit with CarPlay in your own car, tell us about your experience in the comments below!
Image Credits: CC Karlis Dambrans via Flickr, Product Photos Courtesy Amazon
CarPlay is Apple’s solution to your car’s less-than-perfect navigation and infotainment system. Just plug your phone in and your vehicle’s screen shows a simplified version of your phone’s home screen, complete with preapproved, car-friendly apps like Apple Music, iMessage, Maps, and Spotify.
While CarPlay was available in only a handful of cars when Apple launched the product in 2014, pretty much every major car manufacturer now supports CarPlay.
Take a look below for the most frequently asked questions about CarPlay, as well as everything else you need to know.
What is CarPlay?
Originally described as “iOS in the car”, Apple officially launched CarPlay at the 2014 Geneva Motor Show, with manufacturers Ferrari, Mercedes and Volvo the original adopters. As of 2018, there are now more than 200 car models that support Carplay, including all the biggest manufacturers in the biz. (See section What vehicles support CarPlay? for more info.)
Beyond simply the convenience of having your phone’s screen on your car’s dash, CarPlay is all about creating a safer driving experience. Instead of squinting at your phone trying to type out a message at a red light or – worse yet – while driving, with CarPlay you just press the voice command button on your steering wheel and tell Siri to send a message to your buddy, warning her that you’re running late.
With CarPlay, you skip out on your car’s own infotainment system and opt instead for a platform that is simple, intuitive, and immediately familiar. Sounds pretty good, right?
What phones are compatible with CarPlay?
Introduced in 2014, CarPlay works with all iPhone models from the iPhone 5 and up, including:
iPhone 5, 5s, 5c, SE
iPhone 6, 6 Plus
iPhone 6s, 6s Plus
iPhone 7, 7 Plus
iPhone 8, 8 Plus
What vehicles support CarPlay?
As of early 2018, over 200 models support CarPlay – and the list is growing! Check our article Which Car Have CarPlay: An Updated List for the full list of supported models, but pretty much every major auto manufacturer now supports CarPlay in at least a few of their models.
Toyota is one noticeable exception to the list. For years they were holding out for their own proprietary CarPlay-like app, but will finally begin supporting CarPlay in 2019 models – much later than other automakers.
Keep in mind that as of 2018, most manufacturers haven’t incorporated CarPlay into their entire fleet, so be sure to check out list above of cars that support CarPlay before making any decisions!
How do I connect my phone with CarPlay?
Connecting your iPhone to your car with CarPlay is incredibly easy! Just find the Lightning cord (labeled CarPlay or Smartphone) and plug it into your phone. Done.
Since CarPlay is already supported on both your iPhone and in your car, it’s that easy. Just be sure to make sure your car is running and you’ve got service on your phone.
Once you’re plugged in, the CarPlay-compatible apps will automatically pop up on your car’s screen. For increased safety, your phone screen will also become locked so you’re not tempted to watch the latest season of Stranger Things between stop lights.
If you need to send a message or even open an app, you can conjure Siri by two different methods:
Press the Voice Command button on your steering wheel
If you have a touch screen, press and hold the Home Button until Siri pops up.
CarPlay is designed to be intuitive and simple, so you shouldn’t have any problems!
Do I have to have a touchscreen display in my car to use CarPlay?
Absolutely not! CarPlay works with whatever native system your cars uses, whether it be touchscreen or dials and buttons.
Do I have to pay extra for CarPlay?
Automakers are increasingly seeing CarPlay as a necessary function, so while it does depend on the manufacturer, most companies don’t charge any extra for CarPlay.
Hyundai offers CarPlay on all models with navigation (which includes all but the most basic trim levels) at no extra charge, and also offers free updates for existing vehicles, mostly 2015 to 2017 models with navigation already installed. Ford also includes CarPlay in 2017 models equipped with their SYNC 3 system, and also offers gratis updates for 2016 models via Wi-Fi, USB, or at the dealer.
While Toyota was holding out for their own infotainment system for years, they finally caved in early 2018, with CarPlay coming standard on all trim levels of the 2019 Toyota Avalon and with plans to expand CarPlay in the near future.
Not all manufacturers offer CarPlay for free though. Starting in 2019, BMW will charge $80/year for CarPlay, with the first year free. Before that, they charged a flat $300 fee at the time of purchase. Yikes!
Can I install CarPlay in my existing car?
CarPlay must be integrated into the software of your car’s infotainment system. As such, most of the time you’ll need to purchase a vehicle with CarPlay already installed.
As we mentioned above, Ford and Hyundai do offer upgrades for a few models, but generally speaking, if your existing car doesn’t support CarPlay, the only way to get it is to purchase and install a 3rd party infotainment system that does.
Read over our reviews of in-dash infotainment systems with CarPlay for more info on what’s out there. While quite expensive, the Pioneer AVIC8100NEX 7” touchscreen display, for example, comes with CarPlay and Android Auto as well as Bluetooth, and GPS navigation and sees great reviews.
What apps work with CarPlay?
As of early 2018, there’s about 20 apps that are compatible with CarPlay– both from Apple itself as well as 3rd parties.
Of course, Apple Maps, iMessage, and Music are on offer, but others you wouldn’t quite expect – like Notes – also work. On the 3rd party side, you’ve got a handful of options – all of which are ‘audio based’. Spotify, iHeartRadio, NPR One, and Amazon Music are all supported, as well as MLB At Bat, Radio Disney, Audiobooks.com, and Downcast (for podcast).
There are other apps that partially work with CarPlay as well. These won’t have full functionality like the 100% compatible apps above, but will perform the basics. Libby, the library-connected audiobook app for example, allows you to listen to audiobooks with basic functionality (start, pause, FF, RW), but the cooler functionalities of the app are off limits.
Can I use Siri while using CarPlay?
Of course! Siri is actually the heart of CarPlay. Think about it: the whole point of CarPlay is to minimize the time your eyes aren’t glued to the road, so dictation plays a crucial role. Need to update your friend on your ETA? Just wake Siri up and dictate your message. Want to listen to your favorite podcast? Just tell Siri to open it up.
Can I switch between the car’s infotainment system and CarPlay when CarPlay is running?
If you suddenly want to listen to your radio (we’re talking FM/AM, not iHeartRadio), you can easily switch back and forth between CarPlay and your radio, CD player, Sirius XM, or SD card (if your car supports that sort of thing). Using your car’s native navigation isn’t really possible, but why would you even need it when Apple Maps is right there?